Food & Beverage outlets have a substantial impact on global food waste. At the moment, their impact is somewhat on the negative of the spectrum. So, how can restaurants curb this scenario & as chefs, what can we do to help?
Firstly, I believe it's essential to fully understand the amount of food matter discarded by restaurants on a daily basis. It is absolutely normal for a 60-80 seater restaurant to throw out 8-12 sacks of "rubbish" daily. The kitchen's more than likely responsible for around three of those with +- 30-40kg of food-related content. The front will add some food material into their bags as well in the way of plate scrapings etc. So let's use 30kg of food material per day for this restaurant.
A quick internet check will tell you there is more than likely well over 100 such restaurants in that particular city, giving us a drastically underestimated figure of 3000kg daily. Multiply that by all the cities on this planet..... that much.
Secondly, are things like potato peels & plate scrapings actually food waste? Yes. Consider if you would, the millions of starving people around the world. Now consider the logistics of getting those potatoes to your restaurant. Next, discuss the logistics of getting that discarded bag of peels to the dump. Enter into the equation the above figures, and suddenly we are hit with a substantial global waste issue. In essence, we are discarding life.
Dramatic, yes. But perhaps we need to be dramatic. So how can we change this situation? I can give you a list of things to do and not to do. But honestly, that won't help us much. As humans, we are far more connected then we realise. We exist as a hive of sorts, affected by the ebb & flow of our combined existence.
As Chefs, we need to change at the roots - how we live, how we think; it starts at home. I stumbled across a simple method of achieving this. Choose what you concentrate on - our subconscious is very much like a social media algorithm; it brings to the forefront habits & thought processes granted the most interest. To train your subconscious to pick up on more positive waste solutions, concentrate more on waste. Your brilliant mind will very quickly come to the party, and before you know it, it will be moving from a dismissive stance on global waste to one of the proactive solutions.
Take the time to pick up that wrapper you pass on the street. Create a starter out of potato peels. Maintenance hasn't fixed the leaking kitchen tap? Do it. Fish bones, the Asians have great seafood broth recipes. Emptying sauce out of the pot? Did you really scrape it clean or merely fiddle around with a spoon? Yes, you almost threw away a whole portion.
Pay attention to the waste around you, and your mind will do the rest. Once our mindsets have changed, then you can start working on your teams & others you are associated with. This is our responsibility as Chefs - we don't just create great recipes & plates, we need to do it in a healthy, responsible manner.